You’ll notice that music has a pretty prominent role in my life as almost every post I write has something about music in it. As a musician and a lover of all good music it has always been a very large part of my life (as with anyone’s really). The songs that remind you of times in your life, feelings you had, the smells, the people that you don’t see too much anymore or at all. Dare I use the cliché “the soundtrack of our lives”? C’mon I was a child of the 80’s where cheesy and sleazy ruled the day! Learning how to appreciate music over the years was just like learning anything else in life. It starts with an epiphany and leads to you wondering how you never knew what was good before that.
I got my education in classic rock from my stepbrother Greg. I told you the story about how when I was 7 and visited my Dad who’s roommates loved Led Zeppelin. I just couldn’t get into it. It sounded old to me and as a very young mind who liked Kiss and the Wizard of Oz soundtrack, Zep just didn’t fit. As I aged over the next few years and pop metal grew (Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, Van Halen) it became all that I was interested in listening to. Greg was working second shift at a job when he was staying with us for an extended period of time and he used to sleep on the couch in the living room. We only had a four-room apartment and my room was right next to the living room.
When he would get home around midnight or 1 AM he would play his records on the stereo. He only had a few. Black Sabbath – Paranoid, The Who – Who’s Next and Led Zeppelin IV are the ones I really remember. He also had Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and some others I would usually wake up and go out into the living room and hang out with him for an hour or two. I told him of my dislike for Zep and he was on a mission to educate me on classic rock and what was “real” music. He saw all of these bands live and would tell me stories about the shows like the time he went to see The Who and bought two tickets at the window but they gave him three on accident so he went to the back of the line and gave it away. There were many stories about these shows that I would just sit there and soak up like a kid at a campfire.
He would put on Iron Man and have me listen real close on the intro to hear the “I am Iron Man” voice intro. On the original record it wasn’t that prominent and you had to listen for it to hear it. Led Zeppelin IV was not the Zep I had previously heard. I remember hearing the little strum before Black Dog started and then hearing this slow, gritty song about sex and the imagery it left on my young brain. Or The Battle of Evermore and him telling me all about the female folk singer who sings on that song with Robert Plant. Then there was The Who which was his clear favorite. Out of the three I probably had them in third but it was still great. I faded away many a night listening to We Won’t Get Fooled Again or Baba O’Reilly long before CSI ruined it for us all. Greg took the time to explain the meanings of all of these songs to me; how he got into them and the crazy shit he used to do. He enjoyed educating me too. He was happy telling me these stories and that I was interested in it. This whole thing probably only happened over the course of a few months but it forever changed my views on music and would certainly alter my course in the music I learned, lived and was inspired by.